NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- H3.02-9543 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 022456 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Spaceport and In-Space Cryogenic Fluids, Handling, and Storage Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Highly Reliable LOX Pump for Vehicle Loading Operations

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Barber-Nichols Inc.
6325 West 55th
Arvada , CO   80002 - 2777
(303 ) 421 - 8111

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Bill Batton
6325 West 55th
Arvada , CO   80002 - 2777
(303 ) 421 - 8111

This proposal will present an innovative Phase I research and design plan for a reliable LOX pumping system for use in NASA vehicle loading. Due to seal problems with the current LOX loading pumps, the main focus of the Phase I effort will involve design and development of an innovative sealing solution that does not use a failure prone mechanical seal. The seal solution proposed is a combination of a labyrinth seal with N2 buffer gas and pump out vanes on the backside of the pump impeller. This will provide a positive seal with no oxygen leak and have no wearing parts. In addition to this simple and reliable sealing arrangement, other crucial components will be designed for the pump to have the highest reliability and performance. One specific area will be minimization of heat leak from the motor and bearings to the LOX. This will reduce the LOX boil-off that must be vented during loading. Finally, a redundant parallel pumping system will be developed to ensure the highest reliability during vehicle loading at NASA

Outside of NASA, a big market would exist in LNG transfer and ship offloading. Some of these LNG pumps can be very large. Many of these large pumps are typically submersible pumps, which have a large amount of power lost as windage in the motor (due to presence of liquid). This overhung pump with non-contacting seal would not have LNG in the motor and bearings and thus would not have these losses. The bearings could also be lubricated with grease and thus would last longer. Nitrogen could be used as a buffer gas for this application as it will remain a gas at LNG temperatures. The LNG pump market is already big and is growing. This pump would compete well against the alternatives and have great opportunities in this market.

The new seal design can be immediately applied to retrofit existing LOX loading pumps. The new pump design concept can fill new requirements for all NASA LOX pumping applications for ground use. In addition to the LOX loading applications, the proposed pump with innovative seal could be used for the hydrogen loading pumps as well. The buffer gas will need to be changed to helium since it will not liquefy at liquid hydrogen temperatures and will vent off as the nitrogen gas does with oxygen. The only down side here is that helium is more expensive than nitrogen, but the flow will be small and pales in comparison to the boiled-off hydrogen that is vented during loading.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10